It’s been a week into the Movement Control Order (MCO), and I’m sure many things are running through our minds. Even if we take a step back and sit quietly in our own personal corners in our homes, it's easy for the mind to start running again – and pondering our safety, security and our future.
Let’s put the above into context first of all - the hard reality is that there are no ideal solutions for governments around the world that are combating the spread of COVID-19.
This pandemic has placed decision-makers in an unprecedented situation – many countries are placing their citizens under lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, knowing fully how this would impact their freedom and economy.
The prime minister has had to make some tough, yet necessary calls to safeguard the lives of Malaysians while balancing short term and long term economic needs.
This week, the Malaysian government announced several financial incentives to soften immediate impacts from the MCO, both for individuals and businesses alike. Housing and vehicle loans, as well as businesses financing, were granted an automatic delay of payment, and those eligible were also allowed early withdrawal of their retirement funds. The government is also expected to announce a more comprehensive economic stimulus package this week.
For an economy dependant on stable oil prices, as well as manufacturing and services, the limited resources we have and increasing pressure to secure the national budget balance requires both government and able citizens to chip in to ensure long term impacts are minimised.
With that said – our nation’s leaders have set the direction. However, leadership comes in many forms, at many levels. The next step is in the hands of each leader of business organisations, NGOs, religious institutions, and others.
To the leaders of such organisations – big or small – I can truly empathise with what you must be going through right now, as you are looking out for the future of your organisation, especially the livelihoods and careers of your own charges.
While you are stuck at home, with your adjusted work environment but similarly busy schedule – do remember you are now closer to your family, and now have that rare opportunity to reconnect your lost investment by spending time with them. While the underprivileged are often “scrapping for food”, the busy leaders are often “scrapping for time”.
Most importantly, this is the time when your leadership is needed the most. Should you feel any stress or depression when pondering the future – my advise is not to entertain those voices in your head. Instead, seek the voices of those who support you, and be mindful they also need your support.
Take some time to vent it out by doing what you used to enjoy – exercise, read a good book, watch a documentary, or learn something new from the internet.
An article by McKinsey & Company says that in these times, there are three things you can do: make the critical small choices, involve your stakeholders in your decisions, and most of all – take a breath, step back, take stock, and prioritize.
While the health workers, police and firemen are the unsung heroes to safeguard our health - once the MCO is over, the leaders of the big and small organisations around the country will take the responsibility of emerging as the unsung heroes of the economy.
Therefore, remain positive, healthy and stay rested during the next few weeks.
To all the leaders - Today, Malaysia is united in heeding the government’s call to combat the spread of this virus. Next, you can expect the same spirit of support from your teams, as it is your turn to lead them back to success – and perhaps emerge better than before.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).